Public asked for their policing priorities as they are left to foot the bill for funding

Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird wants to know what people's policing priorities are for the coming year.

Thursday, 3rd January 2019, 8:28 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 7:21 am
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.

She says the government has once again put the burden of paying for policing onto local council tax payers, rather than properly funding forces around the country.

In December, the government said it would allow a local increase to the policing precept - the part of a council tax bill which pays for policing - of up to £24 per year.

Crime commissioners are allowed to ask for up to 24 a year to be added to council tax bills to help pay for policing.

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Mrs Baird is reluctantly asking members of the public to pay the equivalent of an additional 31p per week to help fund local policing.

This is for those living in a Band A property. For people in a Band D property it will be an additional 46p per week.

Mrs Baird said: “Local residents know that I firmly believe the government should pay to deliver policing. Sadly, Theresa May does not agree.

"Here, in Northumbria, we stretch every penny out of every pound. However, without significant additional investment, Northumbria Police would be unable to provide the current levels of service to our communities.

Northumbria Police Chief Constable Winton Keenan.

“We continue to make savings and efficiencies to direct money to the services that local residents want to see provided.

"I remain immensely frustrated that the financial burden has, once again, been passed to local taxpayers, and it is important that members of the public are under no illusion: this is a short-term fix that barely covers the need.

"The Home Secretary’s announcement does not address the considerable, and unfunded, police pension issue, new training regime and inflationary and pay pressures, all of which have been thrust upon national policing.

"Nor does it reverse the eight years of austerity that have left Northumbria Police with the lowest number of officers since the 1980s.

“Nevertheless, the flexibility that an extra 31p per week for the majority of residents on the precept provides would leave Northumbria Police in a better position than was feared just a few months ago.

"I have recently met with the chief constable, who agrees with me that savings must also continue to be made so we can build our reserves and to ensure we can deal with any unexpected emergencies throughout the year.

“Chief Constable [Winton] Keenen and I will continue to seek further efficiency savings to ensure we can reinvest in the priorities that you set out in the Police and Crime Plan.”

“Like you, we want the very best for policing. Your unwavering support is appreciated and we want to hear your thoughts now about how we fund policing in the year ahead and ensure the priorities you value continue to be delivered”.

You can let Dame Vera know your thoughts on what Northumbria's policing priorities should be by taking part in the online survey.

To ensure only people who reside in the force area - Sunderland, South and North Tyneside, Newcastle and Gateshead - are included in the results, please include your name and postcode.

You can also write to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, 2nd Floor, Victory House, Balliol Business Park, Benton Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8EW.

The Commissioner and OPCC staff will also be undertaking street surveys to find out what local residents think, along with telephone surveys, until January 21.